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PIERRE MONTEUX

Updated: Mar 10

My grandnephew Walker needed some help with his Berkeley High School paper on famous musicians. So out of the blue he called me asking if I had ever performed with famous musicians, and if so, who they were. I rattled off a couple dozen names, including those of three former San Francisco Symphony conductors. Growing up in the San Francisco viciniity he might have found those names of interest. I'm remembering "Henry Mancini" and "Pink Panther" were the two that made it through the generation gap of name recognition. Walker loves jazz, being a trombonist himself, so my story of doing a shared concert of "Third Stream Music" with the Count Basie Orchestra embedded in the National Symphony was "cool".

Anytime I catch myself reflecting on the years I spent in the trumpet section of the National Symphony, I think of performing in a concert that Pierre Monteux conducted, a program of French masterpieces, including Debussy's La Mer and Ravel's Daphnis & Chloe Suite No. 2. Monteux was born in 1875 and died in 1964, a year after my peak performance experience with him.

Pierre conducted with smiling eyes and a super-clear baton. The orchestra had never performed Daphnis and Chloe so slowly and with such sensual rhythmic precision. It was like slow lovemaking.

No. It was slow lovemaking.

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